“Sometimes I think to myself I wish I’d never won the US Open”- Emma Raducanu’s most honest interview
Emma Raducanu ‘s life is extraordinary in many ways. At the end of August 2021 she won on court 11 at Flushing Meadows her first match of the US Open qualifiers in front of a handful of people. Nine matches later (without dropping any), on September 11th, 2021, she would become the shock of women’s tennis by lifting the trophy in front of 24.000 spectators at the Arthur Ashe in New York.
A superstar of the sport was born. But Emma Raducanu sometimes, deep inside, wishes she had never achieved that glory: “Sometimes I think to myself I wish I’d never won the US Open, I wish that didn’t happen”, she confesses to Gavandra Hodge, in a very honest interview for The Sunday Times Style.
That wish always ends up being replaced by the memory of the euphoria he felt after beating Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 in that final. “At that moment when I was celebrating, I was like, I would literally trade any struggle in the world for this moment.” she says.
That encounter with the ultimate prize in tennis came in a state of grace: “People talk about flow. I have only experienced that twice in my life and that was one of them. I was so in the moment it was insane. I wasn’t even thinking, my body was just moving.””
Raducanu not only wrote sports history. She also became a commercial success. An advertising icon. She turned into an irresistible desire for brands, surrendered to her charisma, her physical beauty and her talent in front of the cameras. Of course, also seduced by the cultural heritage that the tennis player carries with her. Her father is Romanian from Bucharest, her mother is Chinese from Shenyang. Both met in Toronto, where Raducanu was born. When she was two years old, they moved to London.
“That heritage give her a uniquely global appeal, enabling her to transcend the tennis scene into a universal stardom,” describes Hodge in the fashion and lifestyle magazine.
A fact that speaks for itself: in 2022 it is estimated that her earnings were more than 28 million dollars thanks to contracts with Nike, HSBC, Porsche, Evian, Dior, Tiffany and Vodafone. She climbed to the third place among the highest-paid female athletes in the world, after Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka.
“I had to mature very quickly,” says the British. “When I won (the US Open) I was extremely naive. I realized that the tour and everything around it is not very nice, trusting and safe space. You have to be on guard because there are a lot of sharks out there. I think people in the industry, especially with me because I was 19, now 20, they see me as a piggy bank. I’ve been burnt a few times, but I learnt, keep your circle as small as possible.”
Today, Raducanu can’t even open a bottle to drink water. In May she underwent surgery on both her wrists and put an end to an ordeal that escalated a year ago at Wimbledon, when she started working with her fifth coach since she has been a professional tennis player. “I was motivated, over-training and doing a lot of repetitions. I was carrying the pain because I didn’t want to be perceived as weak,” she confesses.
“I struggled with the physical pain, but the mental aspect was also very difficult for me. If I lost a match I would be really down, I would have a day of mourning, literally staring at the wall. I feel things so passionately and intensely.”
And that battle was made more complicated because she felt she couldn’t share what was happening to her, so as not to give away the advantage to her rivals. Raducanu unburdened herself: “I was under a lot of pressure, people had no idea what was happening to me and I had to show this facade and keep everything inside. It was very difficult. And then to be criticized. I’m very young and I’m still learning and making mistakes. It’s much more difficult when you make mistakes in front of everyone and everyone has an opinion about it”.
She tells an anecdote in the interview about the day she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by King Charles at Windsor. She drove to the meeting in sportswear. On arriving at Windsor she went into a Zara fitting room and came out wearing Dior. Later at the ceremony, the King asked her, “Have you found a coach?”. “Good joke! The fact that I’m aware of it already honors me,” Raducanu replied.
“Having female friends around you and women on your team if you’re a female player I think can only be a good thing, because women were once girls and therefore understand all the physical and emotional changes that girls go through,” noted Andy Murray’s mother and former coach.
Perhaps she can take the suggestion from one who follows the tennis concert closely.